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Texas Bound
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New-Gen    Posted 12-20-2004 at 20:57:48       [Reply]  [No Email]
It was going to be a nice easy run. Load a combine and two tractors in northwestern Illinois and deliver them to northeastern Texas. The load wasn't due to be delivered until Thursday morning and it was Monday afternoon. This timeframe allowed 2 full days to drive the 950 miles. We got everything loaded and secured, did a thorough inspection on the truck, and got all the paperwork in order. We ordered and recieved oversize permits for Missori and Texas.{Illinois and Oklahoma didn't require them and I had an annual for Iowa} We finished with just enough daylight left to get across the Missisippi river into Iowa to the first truckstop, where I planned to get a good night's sleep prior to heading south at daybreak.

Before I left the truckstop I decided to weigh the load. I fell in line behind several other trucks to wait my turn, as several more pulled in behind me. Never having weighed at this truckstop before I didn't realize that the scale was too narrow for my load. By the time I got up to the platform and figured this out, there was a rather long line of trucks behind me. Each one had to back up about 150 feet to let me out. The drivers were all nice about it, but it still took time. But of course, this was to be a leisurely trip, so time wasn't really of the essence..... I pulled out on the interstate and proceeded to the truckstop at the next exit where I knew there was a scale that would accomodate my needs.

This scale told me the load was 2000 pounds too heavy on the drive axles. This wasn't a serious problem to correct, just flip a switch on the dash to release the locks on the 5th wheel, back up 6 inches, flip the switch back and voila!! One legal load! I flipped the switch, backed up and..........uh.........nothing happened. Hmmm. Further examination showed that a small airline had cracked. {I rarely ever use this feature} No big deal, just go in the truckstop store, buy an air line, replace it and be on my way! At least it sounded good in theory.....actually in practice it wasn't as bad as it could have been, other than getting a little dirty, and of course, using up a little more time. After successfully completing the repair job I got the fifth wheel moved and a re-weigh showed the axle weights to be legal. A practice turn in the parking lot indicated no apparent problems with the new setting, so we were back in business! At least for a few minutes.........

I pulled out of the truckstop and headed down the service road. As I started the turn onto the interstate onramp I heard a small metalic clunk. As the tractor and trailer straightened out to head down the straightaway I heard a LOUD metallic clunk, followed in quick succession by the unmistakable sound of air leaking, a warning buzzer sounding, the trailer charge button popping out, and the feeling of my torso pressed firmly against the seatbelt as the trailer emergency brake did it's duty. After kicking it out of gear and re-starting the engine {I don't like to kill an engine like that}, I got out to check the situation. The onramp dropped down steeply from the overpass, and when the tractor started down the low road the trailer was still on the high road, putting the passenger side mudflap hanger in a compromising position. It slipped into the opening of the trailer's gooseneck easily in the turn, but when it straightened out it stayed in the opening, destroying itself along with the air lines in the process. Fortunatly an Iowa State Trooper more interested in maintaining traffic flow than harrassing truckers happened along and stood gaurd while I backed off the adjusters on the trailer brakes and removed the offending {or offended} mudflaps so I could get back into the truckstop to survey the damage. He held back the long line of traffic as I backed off the ramp {I was surprised at how many other people wanted to travel on Interstate 80 in such a short time} and happily got back into his nice warm squad car as I headed back into the nice cold parking lot in joyful anticipation of another time consuming field repair. By this time I had long since abandoned the idea of having a "nice liesurely trip".

The damage was minimumal. All that was required to fix it were some pipe fittings. The truckstop was widely acclaimed for having a well staffed and equiped shop. I had all the tools neccesary to do the job, so all I needed were the parts. I needed four different fittings to complete the job. They had the first three on the shelf. There were five different sizes for the fourth one I needed. They had four. I needed the fifth one.........Luckily they had a parts runner on his way in to the supply warehouse for parts for another job, so he brought back what I needed. By the time I got it all back together I realized that the sun would be setting in less than an hour, and the next place where I could legally park for the night was over an hour away. Always looking for the silver lining, I concluded that at least I wasn't going to be suffering from sleep deprivation on this trip!

The next morning I was up and gone at sunrise. I called the people at the delivery point and told them of the situation. The remainder of the trip was successfully uneventful. The irony was that after spending an entire day working at making the load legal, every weigh station I encountered along the way was closed!!

Steve/TN    Posted 12-21-2004 at 03:09:56       [Reply]  [No Email]
Good story. Back when my tractors were earning their keep, I had days like that. Everything that could go wrong would pick on me. I learned to accept the challenges. Made me appreciate the days that went smooth.

LOL - mark    Posted 12-20-2004 at 21:38:56       [Reply]  [No Email]
You jinxed yourself. Every time some new
conductor says it's going to be an easy trip or
the like, ya just know all heck is going to break
loose. I've learned to hear it coming and cut
em off at the pass, ya don't say nothin about
the trip til your idleing in front of the last depot,
grips in hand and your walking for the parking
lot. It's ok to cuss the trip, just don't say it'll be
a cake walk.

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